Get into the roots of your family tree
I’ve always loved the traditional Maori greeting: ‘My ancestors greet your ancestors.’
I think there’s a lot we can learn from this.
Reverence for ancestors is a feature of many traditional societies, all over the world. From New Zealand to Australia to Asia to Africa. It’s one of those things that comes up again and again.
It almost seems like it was only lost when we moved to monotheistic traditions.
But maybe that’s not right either. I remember someone saying that the role of the bard in the middle ages was to wonder around from village to village, and sing the songs of notable families. To help families remember the family lines, and to update them with new additions.
So the absence of ancestors in spiritual life seems to be a particularly modern, maybe western thing.
I mean how many generations can you name off the top of your head?
Many of us would have to check with relatives to get Grandma’s maiden name. We might have a picture of great grandpa around somewhere. But then beyond that, it becomes a bit opaque.
There’s a rumour that they landed in Melbourne during the potato famines in Ireland. Then they maybe they headed north to Queensland looking for land. Maybe.
Partly I think this reflects the trauma that the ancestors of white folks were fleeing from. We left Britain because we were too poor to afford bread. Let’s not talk about it. Let’s just wipe the slate clean and start over.
And almost instinctively, we reject our history – even any thought to mark it down and record it. Who would want to know that sorry tale?
But when we do that, we cut ourselves off from a great source of power – kind of like a tree stopping its roots going deep into the earth.
To make peace and pay respect to our ancestors is to make peace and pay respect to ourselves and our own histories. It’s an act of self-love and care.
It’s a way to acknowledge everything that they struggled to achieve, everything that they did that enabled you to enjoy the gift of life. The terrible boat trip over. The hard early years on the farm. The great depression.
When we give thanks to them we are giving thanks to life itself.
And when we acknowledge their hardships, we acknowledge our own hardships. We can see, from the perspective on ancestral time, that we are all just doing our best the best we can. Sure, we make mistakes, we all do, but we keep passing life on down the line.
It’s a way to be a little more gentle with ourselves.
So if you haven’t, I really encourage you to connect in with your bloodlines. Research your family history. Get the complete picture on how you came to be here.
Give that gift to yourself. You might be amazed at what it brings.